As part of its ninth year sponsoring the marathon, Dole planned to distribute 96,000 bananas at the race. Specifically, the brand hoped to raise awareness of what it calls "functional bananas" known as Gokusen and Sports Banana Lakatan—the Gokusen variety at the starting point and at four locations on the course,
and the Lakatan type at the finish line.
To draw attention to the above activity, the brand and agency created a wearable banana by slicing open a banana, placing LED modules under the skin, and stitching the fruit back together. Thus upgraded and wired into a device all runners wear for monitoring purposes, the fruit was capable of displaying the runner's time and heart rate, motivational tweets and even advice about when to eat another banana for optimal performance. Two runners wore the wearable device, which maintained its "edible functions" (the creators reportedly stuffed a smaller banana inside the original skin along with the electronics), during the race.
The fruity story, along with the video below, earned "a great deal of mentions and attention" in Japanese media as well as coverage by at least 26 international outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Engadget and CNet.
At last year's Tokyo marathon, the brand and agency turned bananas into personalized commemorative items by printing runners' finishing times onto the fruits—work that won the PR Grand Prix at Spikes Asia.
Dole was not alone in creating odd devices to encourage in-race food consumption at this year's Tokyo Marathon: